INTERVIEW: Candle & Bell | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Maria Caruana Galizia, Ross Marshall (DOP) & Andy Berriman (writer & director) on location for A Six And Two Threes

If quizzed, any avid film goer in the North East would tell you that Newcastle is the home of some pretty steadfast institutions. Armed with the homely opulence of the Tyneside Cinema, regular shindigs from Screenage Kicks and more fresh-faced talent than you can shake a BAFTA at, it’s the perfect environment for a multi-faceted film group to flourish; and that’s exactly what Candle & Bell are doing.

The film production company, a remarkable combination of commercial work and art, was formed three years ago by Maria Caruana Galizia. Far from an industry novice, with years of experience that extends to large-scale productions like Game of Thrones and Taggart under her belt, her company vision is both touchingly authentic and sensibly grounded. “I wanted to make commercial videos that were a little different to the standard video content being made by other companies, I also wanted to develop original projects.”

She notes that it exists, as many independent arts groups do, to nurture a rich local scene. “Candle & Bell is also about celebrating the North East; as a location, its talent and stories. If a filmmaker is creating interesting work based in the region, I’m always interested in collaborating with them.”

I don’t like to stick to one genre of film – I look for people who are telling unique stories in an original way

She’s true to her word. Since its inception, Candle & Bell have helped foster a wealth of promising media in and around the region, including works from the prolific Benjamin Bee and a host of BAFTA hopefuls. Teamed with regular collaborations with Tyneside Cinema, the company portfolio speaks volumes of their zeal for short film, and it’s a medium that Maria believes still has a firm fan base. “It’s a huge shame short films are no longer shown before feature films in cinemas, because I think audiences really do enjoy them and like to see what the next generation of filmmakers are producing. Watching all sorts of short films has also driven me to make better films myself, because the standard of work being produced is incredible.”

There’s no fixed genre for Candle & Bell’s work, and in fact, the most striking thing about Maria and her team is their distinct determination to back anything worth watching. Three ongoing projects which stand as perfect examples of the company’s diverse output are Mordecai, which focuses on the story of Orthodox Jewish twins; They Live In Caves, They Are Extremely Shy, based on the colonialism of Aboriginal Australia; and Metroland, which is funded by the Creative England Shorts scheme (the only one in the North East to be selected, and the second time Maria’s making a film through the scheme – the first, A Six And Two Threes, has already picked up awards and festival screenings).

“I work with a pool of filmmakers, which is great, because it means every project is different and has a different style.” She explains. “I don’t like to stick to one genre of film – I look for people who are telling unique stories in an original way. “

It’s understandable then, that there are high hopes for the future of the company. With fistfuls of award nominations and favourable references under their belt, it seems that Candle & Bell are quickly becoming one of the most exciting names in contemporary film in the North East. “The hope is that we can continue to grow both branches of the business, taking on large scale video productions and hopefully getting some feature films off the ground too!”

Candle & Bell host a regular short film night at Tyneside Cinema, Newcastle. The next event takes place on Monday 9th May.

Showreel and Promo video for Candle & Bell from Candle & Bell on Vimeo.

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